Virgin's unlimited data phone plan: only $25/monthFebruary 4, 2011: 10:54 AM ET
Virgin has done it again. They are offering up a better Android smartphone and keeping the same incredibly low rates.
How much is your typical feature phone plan? At Verizon(VZ), 450 minutes is $40/month with an additional charge for texts and no data. Pre-paid plans start at $65/month for 450 minutes. AT&T (T) has a similar post paid plan: $40 for 450 minutes. No text, no data.
Smartphone plans are obviously more expensive. PED posted a comparison chart of the major carriers smartphone plans here, which was put together by Billshrink.
With that in mind, have a look at Virgin's plans, above, right. Compare.
As I've stated before (and I still can't understand how they do this) Virgin, who use Sprint's(S) very solid nationwide 3G network, blow them all away by a long shot. For $25 a month (that's AFTER tax) unlimited data and text, 300 anytime minutes. $40/month bumps you up to 1200 anytime minutes and $60 is unlimited minutes.
There are two downsides to Virgin's plans however:
1. You must pay for the phone up front (no subsidies).
2. They have a very limited selection of smartphones.
The good news is that both of those limitations got slashed this week with the introduction of the $149 LG Optimus V...
I got my demo unit Optimus V after posting the story that they had gone on sale early at Radioshack earlier this week. The V is a very solid mid-range phone running Android 2.2 Froyo. Until now, Virgin's only Android phone was a Samsung slider that ran Android 2.1 and cost $250 retail.
The Optimus V runs Android 2.2, has a much bigger 3.2 inch 320x480 display (similar to iPhone 3GS) and amazingly, costs $100 less at a $150 starting price. It also feels very solid in your hand and runs a mostly unencumbered no frills OS.
So let's do a little math: The unlimited data plans with the major carriers start out at about $80/month compared to Virgin's $25. Over the course of a two year plan, that $55/month/phone difference is over $1300 in savings.
The network works great. It is the same as Sprint.
Again, I don't know how Virgin does it, but if you aren't ready to spend the type of money that the top 10-20% of phones cost (iPhones, EVOs, Droids, etc.), then Virgin's Optimus is likely the best value phone you are going to find. And that includes feature phones.
Engadget had a glowing review of the Sprint Optimus S, a hardware and network twin of the Virgin Optimus V. I'm inclined to agree with their conclusion:
I'll be hard to imagine ever spending a cent on a regular ol' featurephone again.
More on Fortune.com:
- iPhone rate plans: AT&T vs. Verizon (tech.fortune.cnn.com)
- Virgin Mobile slashes Android prices (tech.fortune.cnn.com)
- More talk of smartphones diving into featurephone ground (tech.fortune.cnn.com)
- Meet the first $100 Android phone (tech.fortune.cnn.com)